Sussex v Middlesex, Horsham, 1st day May 31, 2006

Naved-ul-Hasan returns to haunt Middlesex

Sussex 373 for 9 (Naved-ul-Hasan 69, Hopkinson 62, Wright 59, Goodwin 55 ) v Middlesex

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan launches Jamie Dalrymple for six © Martin Williamson
Last summer at Lord's, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan destroyed Middlesex almost single-handedly, smashing a hundred with the bat and then taking seven wickets.

On that occasion, he rescued Sussex from a parlous 199 for 6 to set up a rousing innings victory. He arrived at the crease at Horsham with Sussex again wobbling on 231 for 7 and launched a stinging counter attack which helped propel the Championship leaders to 373 for 9 at the close. His 64 off 51 balls, largely off the innocuous offspin of Jamie Dalrymple, turned a match in which Sussex had largely been the architects of their own problems.

On a slow and soft pitch with the ball not really coming on to the bat, Sussex nevertheless struggled against some ordinary seam bowling, and until Naved-ul-Hasan's arrival the run-rate had hovered under three-an-over all day.

Five of the top six got starts. Carl Hopkinson looked assured for his 62 until he cut straight to backward cover shortly after lunch, while Chris Adams' breezy 31 was ended by a ball from Ben Hutton which kept low. All the time Murray Goodwin was playing a solid anchor innings, but he had just begun to show signs of opening up when he was well caught by a diving Chad Keegan at wide mid-on.

Chris Adams is bowled by Ben Hutton © Martin Williamson
When Robin Martin-Jenkins, whose 37 had included some delightful drives, perished to a juggled return catch by Mohammad Ali, Sussex's batting, not their strongest feature this season, was again threatening to let them down. But Naved-ul-Hasan and Luke Wright laid into Dalrymple, smashing him for 38 off three overs before Middlesex's seamers at least stemmed the avalanche of runs, even if they failed to break through. Although Chris Silverwood removed them both shortly before the close, the damage had been done, and with runs hard to come by there is a feeling that Middlesex are already in trouble.

At the weekend, John Emburey, Middlesex's coach, talked of Keegan as being a potential England player. On the evidence today he looked anything but, and this has to be as weak an attack as Middlesex have fielded since the dark days of the 1960s. While Silverwood has some pep, it looks very unlikely that the likes of Johann Louw and Ali will get enough wickets to heave the county off the bottom of the table. It is going to be a long summer for the Londoners.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo